Saturday, June 4, 2016

Land Owners Seek Reconsideration in USN Suit

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

A group of Eastern Tennessee landowners along the Nolichucky River are asking a Davidson County judge to reconsider her dismissal of a suit challenging the legality of a state permit for a 12-mile pipeline for the use of US Nitrogen.
In a 10-page petition filed this week the property owners disputed the conclusion of Davidson Chancery Judge Claudia Bonnyman that they lacked legal standing to challenge the permit issued by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
Plaintiffs "adequately alleged legally recognized injuries" caused solely by the route dictated by the TDOT permit,  the petition states.
The suit was filed some 17 months ago in behalf of Ann Calfee, Don Bible, Jack Renner, Jeremiah Cluesman, Ruth Dolin and Reuben Stone, residents of Greene and Cocke counties.
In the formal ruling issued in early May, Bonnyman had concluded that the six plaintiffs failed to meet any of the three requirements necessary to challenge the permit.
Elizabeth Murphy, the attorney for the landowners, however disputed Bonnyman's conclusion that "anyone on the river could suffer the same injuries to water quality."
In fact, the petition states, the pipeline, because of its location, presents "a clear and palpable injury" to the plaintiffs.
She noted the discharge point is immediately adjacent to the properties and is located at an atypically shallow point where the river water is onlly ankle deep. In addition she wrote that plowing of land by Renner and Bible over the pipelines filled with chemical waste "is a risk for these farmers."
 The petition also cites the negative effect of the pipeline on land values.
The motion for reconsideration is scheduled for a hearing in Nashville on July 1.
The filing comes just days before a June 9 hearing on a separate but related state permit for the US Nitrogen project.
The hearing called by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation is on the proposed renewal of the permit allowing US Nitrogen to discharge millions of gallons of water per week into the Nolichucky.
The hearing will be held Thursday at the West Greene High School. From 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. residents will be able to ask questions and formal testimony will begin at 7 p.m.
Bible and other opponents of the project plan to attend and voice their concerns.

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